Date reviewed: December 2017 | Tested by: Michael Mann | Price: £550 – £600 | www.agv.co.uk
After three years in development, Italian purveyors of some of the finest helmets in the land, AGV, announced their first full carbon, flip-front helmet in November 2017 with equivalent levels of protection as the Pista GP-R. BikeSocial not only visited the factory in Northern Italy beforehand to get the lowdown but have also been riding in it since, covering 1,000 miles so far. Here’s an introduction:
These are my first impressions and are based on the 1,000 miles covered over a 6-week period in November/December 2017. The helmet was worn while riding four adventure bikes – BMW R1200GS A, Triumph Tiger 1200 XCA, Ducati Multistrada 1260 S and Honda VFR1200X Crosstourer through a variety of conditions from UK motorways and B-roads to riding the Triumph off-road near Almeria plus the new Ducati on the launch in Gran Canaria. From 3 degrees to 23 degrees and in wind, rain, snow plus beautiful sunshine and even at night.
AGV has a rich history of producing helmets and has recently celebrated its 70th anniversary, so its research, development and manufacturing prowess is second-to-none. This is certainly reflected by their latest lid of which there are six versions available priced from £550 - £600.
It certainly looks the part being made from 100% carbon fibre – sexy, sleek, shiny and at first glance looks bears more than just a slight resemblance to the top spec Pista GP-R. In fact, AGV claim the Sport Modular offers the same level of protection as the Pista GP-R, as worn by nine-time World Champion, Valentino Rossi. The carbon weave on the Glossy Carbon version I have looks very smart and stealthy and not at all like a traditional white or hi-vis appearance traditionally associated with flip-front helmets.
The shell has been engineered in three sizes with five-density EPS (Expanded Polystyrene Structure) and with eight sizes on offer from XXS – XXXL in six finishes: Hi-Vis (Carbon/Yellow Fluo), Aero (Carbon/Red), Carbon/White, Carbon/Dark Grey, Matt Carbon, Glossy Carbon.
The flip part of the helmet is also full carbon unlike many competitors. The reason, explained by AGV’s Group Product Marketing Manager, is, “A carbon chin allows us to deliver amazing safety at an ideal weight. From an R&D perspective, making a carbon chin is as complicated as making another helmet. It’s a nightmare in terms of tolerance, you need to be very precise in making the products but thanks to this structure we have been able to create a touring helmet which has the same impact performance as Pista GP R, and that is a 5* SHARP rated helmet which has been developed for MotoGP, the most severe impact test in the world. So, this helmet has exactly the same impact performance.
The metal chin-guard opening system is designed to prevent accidental openings and is operated by a simple forward hinging latch under the centre of the chin. Easy to open even with winter-weight, Gore-tex gloves.
For the full carbon look, AGV will be launching carbon inserts to replace the air intakes and rear spoiler.
This is the AGV trump card. They’ve managed to create a flip front helmet with the same safety standards as their most premium lid, all with a claimed weight of 1295g making the Sport Modular over 300g lighter than its competitors. That’s the weight of an iPad Mini.
When riding, the helmet certainly feels light-weight and both balanced and comfortable to move in when stationary at junctions, for example, but also stable at speed as a result. Not only does the carbon fibre outer shell have a premium style and feel but the fit of the helmet and the weight are first class.
Having ridden in the helmet in a range of conditions already, I have been able to utilise the venting which is both highly effective and simple to manage. The large chin vent is a simple slide up to close or down to open operation, easy even with touring gloves. While one large central vent above the visor slides back to open and forward to close, again it’s simple to operate. An ‘exhaust’ at the rear of the helmet allows air to escape over the top and rear of the head – a noticeable tickle of breeze over the central portion or my head from front to back was handy when the external temperature was over 20 degrees and I’d been riding rather energetically.
An integrated spoiler on the rear opens with a push-click to act as turbulence reduction apparently, though I think it’s more for posing.
The Pinlock 120 system assisted the ventilation to restrict fogging up of the visor, though the drop-down sun visor is a little more susceptible.
The closing mechanism on the visor matches that of the Pista GP R in that it can be completely closed and ‘locked’ into place, or there is second ‘locked’ option with a slight gap allowing for a degree of airflow through the visor opening. Even with the visor in this position, it doesn’t open itself when riding at any kind of speed.
Opened by the central push-button style clasp under the centre of the visor just like the Pista GP R and slots back into place using the protruding lip on the lower central rim of the visor with a reassuring click.
There are four key points about the visor; firstly, the ratchet and closing mechanism works a treat. As already mentioned the visor has two closing options and the 3-step ratcheted opening system is sturdy enough to hold the visor up without it dropping.
Secondly, the field of vision horizontally is wide – 190 degrees to be exact which offers natural reassurance that you see as far around as you need without compromising the safety of the shell. That said, the way the visors curves up to the pivot point does cut into that extreme left or right field of vision, noticeable when looking either way at a junction. The simple way to overcome that is to stop being lazy and to turn my head a little more.
The third key point is the quality of the visor and the accompanying Pinlock 120, an anti-fog layer that attaches to the inside of the visor. The material used for the visor is classed as Optic 1 – the clearest on the market and I can vouch for how clear it is with no distortion.
And finally, the sun-visor mechanism. Operated via the slide mechanism under the chin bar to the left-hand side as you wear it, meaning you don’t need to take you right hand off the throttle. Slide it forwards and the integrated, anti-scratch black visor pops down and almost rests on the bridge of my nose. It doesn’t have the anti-fog Pinlock system so is a little more susceptible to misting in colder conditions.
When I first put the Sport Modular on it was in the AGV factory and I noticed how much noise had been blocked out, even without ear plugs. When on the roads, anything below 50mph is fine for noise levels without ear plugs but travel consistently above when banging in some big motorway miles then I would recommend them. The lining allows for glasses-wearers to fit the arms of their specs in the allocated channels which then remained unaffected by the flip mechanism.
Inside and another neat little trick is the removable and reversible crown part of the lining which has a cooler side and warmer side depending on the preferred feel and climate – it’s a rather plush fit using comfortable, soft and well-padded material.
The titanium Double D retention system is claimed to be 43% lighter than the standard steel DD which is as easy to fasten and unfasten as any others I’ve tried. It comes with a small elastic band to tuck the strap into once fastened.
According to the size guide, my head circumference is on the cusp of medium to large so I tried both and opted for the medium which fits snugly without being too tight anywhere. I tend to wear a Pista GP or Arai RX-7V most of the time, some of the sportiest helmets on the market which are designed to squeeze your cheeks but the new AGV has plenty of space here because of the nature of the flip style.
I found the chin bar only just brushes against my chin when flipping the front up but there’s a reassuring click when flipping back down so you know it’s firmly back in place and feels rigid and complete like a full-face would.
It’s easily the most comfortable helmet I’ve worn and I’d gladly cover the miles in it.
By the nature of what a flip front is designed to do, by having an opening mechanism whereby at least 30% of the shell is separate and is attached by an pivoting opening mechanism and not as a complete one-piece shell, the consequence will be a little more noise than the snuggest of sports helmets. However, the Italians have produced a fine piece if safety equipment that contains the noise – yes, I would recommend earplugs but the lining, snug fit and quality of the closing mechanism makes for a comfortable ride when it comes to noise.
We have yet to test the helmet with any kind of comms device although the recess around the ears in the EPS would suggest AGV may well be creating their own in the near future.
Having never considered a flip-front helmet before, I’m glad that my first taste has been in a lightweight, high quality example from the experts at AGV. Am I a convert? Well, I’m certainly a fan of style, and the Sport Modular has that in spades. I’m waiting to take advantage of a darker visor in the coming summer months and it will be my first choice of helmet for any distance touring. After all, it has the solidity of a full-face with added practicality. The only noticeable downside is the small amount of wear it already shows on the neck skirt – because I’m not clean-shaven daily, a degree of bobbling is already visible. A tougher material around the base of the helmet, where it rests on the ground/table/workbench would negate this.
What’s not to like? It’s lightweight, stylish, fits beautifully, has the equivalent protection of Rossi’s own race helmet, comes in a range of colours and that whole package is available for less than £600. It's first class and I’m certain that when SHARP-tested it’ll receive full marks too.
3 Shell Sizes covering: